SWAN VALLEY - Jack Gladstone, dubbed "Montana's Troubadour", performed with Swan Valley Elementary (SVE) students Sunday, March 12. The concert was a part of the 2 Valleys Stage 2016-2017 concert series.
Gladstone, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation, illustrates Native American culture with music, lyric poetry and narratives. He is well-named a troubadour as he has traveled with his music to 46 states, Canada, Europe and Japan.
Gladstone met with SVE students the week before the March 12 performance. The sessions are called informance or educating about music. He taught the students about music including how to tune a guitar using a tuner, the mathematical nature of music and the vibrations it creates.
Gladstone and the students practiced three songs that they performed at the concert entitled "Circle of Life", "Hallelujah" and "Amazing Grace." He explained about the higher ranged falsetto voice used in "Circle of Life" and which also is used in yodeling. He showed the students how to change the key of the song on his guitar from C to B in the song "Amazing Grace" so he and the students were more comfortable with the notes sung.
Gladstone said he liked to see the light come on in the students' eyes when they are engaged with the song.
Gladstone said he tells the students that when they sing, the blend of voices, patterns, the vibrations and the mood will never happen again. Even if it is not harmonic, they are still creating a unique texture. "It speaks to the larger duty of citizens to contribute their own song to society. We are responsible to the larger song with our own song. We need to contribute. We all have a voice," he told them.
He said the students' voices sounded "heavenly." "We just need to stay in tune and in time," he told them.
Gladstone, who has a degree in Speech Communications from the University of Washington, began writing songs in college. He wanted to tell a bigger story of the American West and be a bridge to the Native American culture.
Colleen Kesterson, Pathfinder
Singer and songwriter Jack Gladstone shows the students at Swan Valley Elementary School (SVE) how the tuner uses vibrations of the note to match the vibrations of the guitar's note. Gladstone is singing the same note vibration. The SVE students were participating in an informance, music education, before their performance with Gladstone on Sunday, March 12. The performance and informance were sponsored by Alpine Artisans' 2 Valleys Stage.
Gladstone explained that the poetry in the songs like those in "Circle of Life" [about Mother Nature] is a bridge to the ineffable. The words help to explain things that are unexplainable.
During the concert, Gladstone sang "Black Faced Woman Believe in Love" a song that he wrote this year for his 93-year-old aunt Neda and performed at her funeral.
The lyrics in the song, "fighting to be born" refer to her difficult birth which resulted in her head being black and blue. Later in the song the lyrics turn to "dying to be born" to what Gladstone described as whatever is beyond. His words in the chorus say "sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles, grandmas and papas believing in love, share it with the world."
When asked why Gladstone's concert was held for the first time at the Community Hall instead of the Swan Valley School, Program Manager for Alpine Artisan's (AAI) 2 Valley Stage Carol Evans said "We thought it would be more intimate and have more ambiance. Also, we thought the acoustics would be better at the hall instead of the school gym."
The next AAI 2 Valleys Stage performance will be The Sapphire Trio, held Sunday, April 23 at the Seeley-Swan High School at 3 p.m.